Characterizing a New England Saltmarsh with NASA G-LiHT Airborne Lidar

TitleCharacterizing a New England Saltmarsh with NASA G-LiHT Airborne Lidar
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsPaynter I, Schaaf C, Bowen J, Deegan L, Peri F, Cook B
JournalRemote Sensing
Date Publishedmar

Airborne lidar can observe saltmarshes on a regional scale, targeting phenological and tidal states to provide the information to more effectively utilize frequent multispectral satellite observations to monitor change. Airborne lidar observations from NASA Goddard Lidar Hyperspectral and Thermal (G-LiHT) of a well-studied region of saltmarsh (Plum Island, Massachusetts, United States) were acquired in multiple years (2014, 2015 and 2016). These airborne lidar data provide characterizations of important saltmarsh components, as well as specifications for effective surveys. The invasive Phragmites australis was observed to increase in extent from 8374 m2 in 2014, to 8882 m2 in 2015 (+6.1%), and again to 13,819 m2 in 2016 (+55.6%). Validation with terrestrial lidar supported this increase, but suggested the total extent was still underestimated. Estimates of Spartina alterniflora extent from airborne lidar were within 7% of those from terrestrial lidar, but overestimation of height of Spartina alterniflora was found to occur at the edges of creeks (+83.9%). Capturing algae was found to require observations within ±15° of nadir, and capturing creek structure required observations within ±10° of nadir. In addition, 90.33% of creeks and ditches were successfully captured in the airborne lidar data (8206.3 m out of 9084.3 m found in aerial imagery).

Citation Keypaynter_characterizing_2019